Phi Kappa Tau wants to change the image of a stereotypical fraternity.
Just over a year ago, a small group of Colorado State University students came together to create a new fraternity. Among them were current Phi Kappa Tau President Patrick McGlinchey and House Manager Ryan Csrnko.
Phi Kappa Tau has been on the CSU campus before, though it was not disclosed why it disbanded. In order to re-establish the fraternity, they have had to complete “a rigorous set of tasks” to ensure a good structure before they can be officially chartered and initiated into the national organization. These include philanthropy, community service and maintaining good grades.
The organization currently has 54 members, which means it is time to find a house, according to self-appointed House Manager Csrnko.
Though they’ve looked into several houses, none had fit their exact needs until McGlinchey received an email from Paul Milewski, who owns a house on East Elizabeth Street with CSU alumna Julie Rickett.
“This is the first house we’ve found that is zoned for (a fraternity) and the owners are not only willing, but they’re really pushing for it,” McGlinchey said.
Milewski and Rickett are the owners of 201 E. Elizabeth St. The nine-bedroom house would accommodate 24 people. It has primarily served as a home for fraternities and sororities in the past, so Milewski and Rickett wanted to return it to its original purpose, Rickett said.
“It’s been a fraternity or sorority at one point or another since 1926, so it was kind of the original character of that area of town,” Milewski said. “That’s what that house is meant for.”
Because of the lack of Greek housing in Fort Collins, Rickett said she feels that renting this house would provide a great service to the students of CSU.
Multiple organizations were interested in the house, according to McGlinchey. Rickett and Milewski ultimately decided that Phi Kappa Tau was the best fit for the house because of the passion, dedication and character of the group’s leadership.
“They talked a lot about service to the community and they really just stand out,” Milewski said.
Milewski and Rickett planned to rent the house to Phi Kappa Tau after submitting an application for a minor amendment and renovating the property. They ran into trouble when neighbors protested the fraternity moving in next door during a town hall meeting Feb. 19, McGlinchey said.
According to Noah Beals, senior city planner, the house was previously zoned for fraternity and sorority use. Since then it has also served as a boarding house, so a minor change of use amendment is required for the house to be used for a fraternity.
“Typically that’s an administrative process and review, but with the outpouring of contact from neighbors that we’ve received, we referred the decision to the planning and zoning board,” Beals said. The planning and zoning board held a public hearing March 12, but decided to revisit the issue at another hearing April 9.
McGlinchey and Csrnko both said they were surprised by the reaction from the community. Instead of the friendly interaction they were expecting, they were met with “really harsh criticisms and stereotypes,” McGlinchey said.
Because there is a rental unit next door that also houses 24 people, Csrnko said he feels they are being discriminated against for being a fraternity.
“I think this is our chance, not only as Phi Kappa Tau here at CSU, but our chance as Greek Life, to show that we can come into a neighborhood with families and still operate as good neighbors,” Csrnko said.
The fraternity wants to show that they can be a benefit to the community, according to McGlinchey.
“We don’t even live here yet and we’ve shoveled their snow,” McGlinchey said.
The group is focused on breaking down the “Animal House” stereotype that surrounds fraternities today, Csrnko said.
“I feel like we’re doing our part right now trying to prove we’re good neighbors to the community,” McGlinchey said. “Now, it’s the community’s part to be good neighbors and give us the chance.”
Collegian Reporter Emily Vavra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @vivalavavra.